Five destinations for cycling in nature

Published on 

Five destinations for cycling in nature

Wherever you are in the world, you can climb on a bike and cycle through breathtaking scenery. Nature reveals its glories in a different light when you are on two wheels.

Five destinations for cycling in nature

Peace and adventure in Beijing

Beijing has urban parks galore, peaceful green spaces in complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the sprawling capital beyond. Head for Jingshan Park, right opposite the gates of the Forbidden City. This green leafy oasis has cycle tracks leading up to the top of Coal Hill, just 45 metres high and therefore a gentle ride for cycling enthusiasts. Everything in this park was designed in keeping with the principles of feng shui and its balance of natural elements. For example, the park is laid out to channel cold winds away and artificial mounds keep evil spirits at bay.

Feel the need for more sporting sensations? Pedal your way to the heart of the largest green space in Asia, Olympic Forest Park, located 20 kilometres from the city centre. In the northern section of the park, you will enjoy the beauty and tranquillity created by fields of sunflowers and other flowers surrounding the lake. In the gardens of the southern section, you can ride up the landscaped trails of Yangshan Mountain. After 30 minutes in the saddle, you get to the top. Take a break to admire the view over Aohai Lake below. Almost 11 kilometres of tracks will take you to see the key venues of the 2008 Olympic Games, such as the memorable National Stadium in the shape of a bird's nest.

Jingshan Park
No.44 Jingshan West Street
Xicheng District
Beijing
China

Olympic Forest Park
No.15 Beichen East Road
Beijing
China

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five destinations for cycling in nature

Romantic getaway to Florence and beyond

Florence is so much more than a city of art; it is also the perfect place for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Hire a bike and set off from Parco delle Cascine, following the banks of the River Arno as it makes its way out of the city. Along this peaceful route, all the way to Signa, you will be accompanied by some amazing wildlife, in particular the great cormorants in the Parco dei Renai protected nature reserve.

More experienced cyclists will enjoy exploring the tougher tracks of the Montalbano hills by mountain bike. After just an hour's climb from Florence, you are rewarded with impressive views over the city and the valley below. Finally, for a truly memorable two-wheeled adventure, take the Via Chiantigiana road as it snakes gently up hillsides, through medieval villages, past castles and vineyards all the way to Siena, about 60 kilometres from your starting point. This is the heart of Chianti country and all its glories.

Parco delle Cascine
Piazzale delle Cascine
50144 Florence
Italy
parcodellecascine.comune.fi.it/

Parco dei Renai
Via dei Renai
50058 Signa
Italy
www.parcorenai.it/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five destinations for cycling in nature

Exhilaration in Cape Town

This South African city is an absolute paradise for freedom-loving mountain bikers. Just on the outskirts of Cape Town, take the path up to majestic Table Mountain, one of nature's great wonders. There are plenty of bike rental companies at the foot of the mountain to provide your wheels. An extensive network of winding gravel paths and stony tracks criss-cross the sometimes-steep slopes of the mountain range. After three hours of cycling along the mountain trails, you finally make it to the top. You will be blown away by the panorama that opens up in front of you: the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Cape Town valleys and the superb beaches of False Bay on the other. In the heart of the mountains, take a well-deserved swim in Hely-Hutchinson reservoir at the top of Skeleton Gorge. Stay around a little while longer and visit the Waterworks Museum with its various bits of old machinery used to build the dams. Then set off on the final stage of your adventure to conquer this unique area.

Table Mountain National Park
Cape Town
South Africa
www.tablemountain.net/

Waterworks Museum
Table Mountain National Park
Cape Town
South Africa

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five destinations for cycling in nature

In the hills above San Francisco

The Rancho Corral de Tierra, a vast hilly national park high above San Francisco, boasts miles and miles of trails just perfect for hiking and cycling. A favourite spot for Silicon Valley's fearless mountain bikers, you too will love its pristine landscapes, dotted with farms and stables. This protected piece of paradise is largely untouched by man's presence, ensuring you get a diverse and challenging ride with narrow dirt tracks and awe-inspiring vistas. At the top of 579-metre-high Montara Mountain, you can gaze down on almost-uninterrupted views of San Francisco Bay – it is a perfect picture-postcard! After this, pedal your way to Crystal Springs reservoirs to recharge your batteries in the splendid gardens of Pulgas Water Temple, a monument inspired by Greek architecture.

Rancho Corral de Tierra
San Pedro Mountain Road
Moss Beach, CA 94038
United States of America
+1 415-561-4700

Pulgas Water Temple
56 Cañada Road
Redwood City, CA 94062
United States of America

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five destinations for cycling in nature

Escape to Strasbourg

With a network of over 560 kilometres of cycle tracks, the capital of Alsace has no shortage of ideas for your bike rides. If you fancy a leisurely amble, opt for the banks of the Rhône-Rhine canal. After leaving Strasbourg, pick up the towpath and set off on a 38-kilometre adventure as far as Artzenheim. Meadows, fields of crops, small woods, paths lined with plane trees… everything here contributes to a picture of peace and serenity.

Hardy cyclists make their way to Neuwiller-lès-Saverne, about 40 minutes north-west of Strasbourg. There, 50 kilometres of pure cycling heaven await in the heart of the Vosges forest, with the fortified castle of La Petite-Pierre providing the high point of your ride. With its remote, natural setting, this 13th-century monument will fascinate with its ramparts designed by Louis XIV's architect, Vauban. The fabulous views over the Vosges Mountains, the Plain of Alsace and the Black Forest cannot fail to impress either. It is a just reward at the end of a unique cycling expedition.

Rhône-Rhine canal
France

La Petite-Pierre castle
67290 La Petite-Pierre
France
+33 (0)3 88 70 42 30